Monday, April 20, 2015

What Is Your Weakness?

Developing management skills is hard for everybody, and it’s about making mistakes, and trial and error. It’s about trying to figure out who you are as a manager and your own genuine strengths and weaknesses. There are certain things that come naturally — I am a good communicator. On the flip side, I don’t like giving people bad news. I am a positive person who wants to believe in people.

One of the biggest insights for me has been that your gut really knows what you have to do and sometimes they’re things that are not easy. You have to listen to that and say, this is a really tough decision. It’s not one I’m excited about, but it’s the right decision, and you have to focus your energy on doing those things.

This time of year I have many undergraduate and graduate students preparing for the dreaded job search. When they ask me for advice, I will say to the students, “Walk me through your résumé”: their thought process tells you a lot about someone. The next thing for me is to ask, “What’s your biggest strength and what’s your biggest weakness?” People will tell you exactly what they’re good at and what they’re bad at.

If they don’t give me a real weakness, I’ll tell them about mine. I’m impatient. It’s what makes me the entrepreneur. I’m not willing to wait for the next month. I’m going to find a way to get there faster, but being impatient creates all kinds of other problems.

And then I’ll ask them again, “What are you genuinely bad at? What does your spouse or partner or the person you’re dating tell you you’re bad at? Because if they haven’t told you, then you shouldn’t be sitting here because I can’t work with you if you don’t know what you’re bad at.”

I don’t think people’s weaknesses are bad at all. We all have them. I have tons, and I’m not going to discredit you for having them, but I think that not being aware of them is dangerous.

I learned in business school that you don’t need to limit your weaknesses. You should harness your strengths. If I do that, I’m probably going to go a lot farther in whatever I’m trying to do. That was an “aha” moment for me — that your weaknesses aren’t bad. That’s one reason why I push hard in the interview on strengths and weaknesses. I want you to be able to harness your strengths and, if I can understand them, maybe we can push it further.

Sometimes when I’m mentoring people, I’ll say, “What’s your biggest dream?” and it will be something small and I’ll say: “Dream bigger. Just give yourself the ability to say, ‘I want something bigger,’ because who cares if you fail? Truly, who cares? So dream bigger because no one else is going to do it for you.”

I also tell them about a filter I use to help me make decisions, which is, “When I’m 90, will I regret this?” One of the last things my Grandfather told me about his career, he never regretted anything he did, he just regretted the things he didn’t do. Sound advice for all.

CHINA GROWTH SLOWS - China grew at its slowest pace in six years at the start of 2015 and weakness in key sectors suggested the world's second-largest economy was still losing momentum, intensifying Beijing's struggle to find the right policy mix to shore up activity. ... Measures to support the property sector and a series of cuts in interest rates and bank reserve requirements look to have delivered less support to the economy than hoped, apart from feeding a stock market surge, raising expectations of more stimulus soon.

Gross domestic product grew an annual 7.0 percent in the first quarter, slowing from 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, China's statistics bureau said. While matching the median forecast in a Reuters poll, some analysts said it seemed stronger than data on the components of growth suggested. 'Despite a headline growth rate in line with expectations, underlying economic activities appear to have softened further,' Qu Hongbin, HSBC's co-head of Asian Economic Research, said in a note.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – IVORY TOWER TURF WARS: In the quarter-century since West Virginia became the first state to allow community colleges to award bachelor's degrees, only 22 others have followed suit. And in almost all of them, fewer than five colleges have expanded beyond their traditional two-year degree confines. Between institutional competition, historically distinct missions and concerns about quality and capacity, such a move can be controversial, the Education Commission of the States says in a policy analysis. Where two-year colleges do offer four-year degrees, the programs are generally focused on meeting needs of the workforce and a broader range of students who may not be able to access or afford a university. And states typically limit the type and number of bachelor's degrees community colleges can offer - to avoid both duplication and competition with neighboring universities - and have specific program approval processes.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Queen Elizabeth II (89), Gene Hasse ....famous father and Detroit Tiger fan, Andie MacDowell (57), Jack Nicholson (78).

ETSY TO DEBUT ON NASDAQ - The stock price for the initial public offering is set at $16 per share, giving the company an expected market value of $1.78 billion. ... Etsy's target share price compares favorably with recent public offerings of tech stocks, says Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks financial research firm, who calls stock debuts of Internet companies like Twitter 'way overpriced.' The proposed stock value of Etsy is worth approximately nine times its 2014 annual revenue, compared with the public offering of Twitter, which debuted at a price worth about 44 times its annual revenue, and Alibaba, which traded at 19 times its revenue."

DESSERT - Starbucks Announces S'mores Frappuccinos, For A Limited Time: Starbucks will release a new, limited-time layered S'mores Frappuccino on April 28 to remind people of the 'nostalgic summer experience' ... will be made with a foundation of marshmallow whipped cream and milk chocolate sauce, followed by graham crackers, coffee, milk and ice. It's then topped off with the same marshmallow whipped cream and bits of graham cracker.


1. Informal. speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress; bunkum: The claims were just a lot of malarkey.
Underneath all that free and easy hippie malarkey she is actually the most awful prig…
-- Zoë Heller, What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, 2003

esconder, verb; to hide

Esconder is the basic word to talk about hiding something somewhere.
un tesoro Escondido
--hidden treasure

THE PUZZLER: “Secret Files” – Sort the following words into three different categories and name the categories.

dinar, tap,  yen, spoon, potato ricer, ballet, flamenco, garlic press, nutcracker, swing, rupee, sheqel

Currencies                            Cooking Utensils                 Types of Dance
dinar                                       garlic press                            ballet
rupee                                      nutcracker                             flamenco
sheqel                                     potato ricer                            swing
yen                                          spoon                                       tap


Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Series Picks

West – Ducks over Jets in 6 games, Flames over Canucks in 7 games, Blues over the Wild in 5 games, Blackhawks over the Predators in 7 games.
East – Rangers over Penguins in 5 games, Capitals over the Islanders in 7 games, Senators over the Canadiens in 6 games, Lightening over Detroit in 5 games.

NBA Playoffs: First Round Series Picks

West – Warriors over the Pelicans 5 games, Houston over Dallas 6 games, Spurs over the Clippers in 7 games, Portland over Memphis in 7 games.
East – Atlanta over Brooklyn in 5 games, Cleveland over Boston in 6 games, Chicago over Milwaukee in 6 games, Washington over Toronto in 7 games.

Season to date (35-17)

MARKET WEEK – The dollar index, tracking against a basket of six other currencies, rose nearly 9 percent in the the first three months of the year, for the best quarter since the third quarter of 2008.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Hillary Clinton continues her presidential announcement tour with low-key stops in New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday ... Greek deadlines approach with a finance ministers conference call Wednesday and full meeting on Friday in Riga, Latvia to determine whether Greece has done enough to warrant more emergency aid ... President Obama today meets with Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ... Morgan Stanley reports first quarter earnings this morning ... Existing home sales Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 5.04M form 4.88M ... Durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.6 percent headline and 0.3 percent core ... FSOC meets today in closed session.

Next week: Spring time gardening and favorite meals.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
April 20, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Pajama Diaries, Terri Libenson

Monday, April 13, 2015

Generation Z

I recall the exact moment the temperature changed in the classroom. It was 2012, and I was speaking to a class of 25 young professionals. I was relating my experiences building a career as a baby boomer (born 1946-63) in a world of traditionalists (born before 1945) and Gen Xers (born 1964-79).

Every time I threw out phrases like “paying your dues” and “playing the game,” the class stared at me blankly. This was not the reaction I had come to expect from early twentysomethings. Usually they took notes on how they could get ahead in corporate America as quickly as possible.

I would soon learn, however, that the millennial generation (also known as Generation Y, born after 1980), had come on the scene. Generally speaking, these students didn’t like my advice about coping with bureaucracy and office politics. It seemed to me that some of them didn’t want to grow up, but at the same time they felt they deserved to do meaningful work right away. Many were not afraid to speak their minds and made it clear they wanted to change the status quo. And at 80 million strong, they had the numbers to do it.

It has taken a few years before most organizations identified the millennials as a talent issue on fire. By now, the oldest millennials are 35. They aren’t children anymore — in fact, a majority of them are leaders with decision-making power and direct reports. While executives have been fretting over the millennials, though, a new generation is growing up behind the scenes — Generation Z (born starting in the mid-90s to the early ’00s depending on whom you ask). Today Gen Zers are in my classes, and they are poised to be somewhat different from the millennials.

I’ve now had the opportunity to meet lots of Gen Zers, and here’s what I’ve noticed. To start, they tend to be independent. While a 2015 Census Bureau report found that nearly a third of millennials are still living with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. As demonstrated by the teenagers attending the recent Generation Z Conference at American University in Washington, Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college. Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in-person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are well prepared for a global business environment.

Gen Z is also diverse. I have a student who is a quarter Hispanic, a quarter African-American, a quarter Taiwanese, and a quarter white. That’s Gen Z — they are often a mix of ethnicities.

Even well-known organizations will have to rethink their recruiting practices to attract this group, and now is the time to start. Those who want to take advantage of Gen Z talent in the future need to develop relationships today with teenagers in grades seven through 12. Get into their schools, provide mentorship and education, and put yourself in a position to help shape their career decisions. They are eager to listen.

Filling the talent pipeline has never been so critical now that the United States is facing a skills gap in most industries. Even if you’re a small operation, you can still have a Gen Z internship program. These children are so mature and they learn so fast, they might just be ready to take over by the time they’re 22. Managers take note.

Thank you Alexandria Levit for assistance in this piece. 

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – ARE COLLEGES READY FOR 'COLLEGE-READY' STANDARDS? Five years after states across the nation began to adopt the Common Core, colleges have done little to align their admissions criteria, curricula or educational policies with the new standards. And while higher education officials say they're doing plenty for now - including advocating for the standards and training teachers to use them - experts warn that the inertia could make for a bumpy transition for graduating high school students. The higher education community doesn't even agree on a definition of "college ready" - except to acknowledge that it likely means something different at Stanford than it does at Pellissippi State Community College. "Most of higher education's commitments so far have really reflected more of a rhetorical acceptance of higher standards," said Lindsey Tepe, policy analyst with New America's Education Policy Program.

In this wait-and-see environment, there are bright spots of on-the-ground policy changes. Two Colorado colleges just announced they'll use scores on the PARCC language arts and math exams to determine whether students are fit for credit-bearing college courses. "We're proud to be the first state with institutions making a bold step toward relying on PARCC assessments to determine college readiness," said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. 

POLITICS 101 - Hillary Clinton readies presidential launch: With an announcement on social media, she will pick up where she left off 7 years ago: The launch ... will begin with a message on social media and continue over the next week with campaign visits to Iowa and New Hampshire. ... In recent months, she has been highlighting her decades-long record fighting for women's rights and supporting equal pay and legislation like paid sick leave. The speeches, in controlled environments filled with supporters, have provided Clinton with the opportunity for a soft launch before entering the fray. ...

In a mission statement handed out to the team Saturday, campaign manager Robby Mook outlined how important it will be for the team to operate as a unified team, and as a diverse 'family.' ... The memo's point was clear: Mook and senior staffers are determined to set a collaborative tone ... The memo also reminded staffers of one of the campaign's animating themes: that the election 'is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us - it's about the everyday Americans who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Hillary Clinton's entrance into the 2016 race immediately makes her the front-runner to become the next president of the United States and the first woman to hold the office. Few candidates in American history have come into a campaign for the White House with stronger resumes or deeper experience. She leads all her potential GOP rivals in early polls. She will almost certainly get her party's nomination and her strength among women and the demographic tilt of the electorate in key swing states all tend to benefit her. But Clinton could easily lose.

The lack of a serious primary opponent (for now) means Clinton, who isn't a natural political athlete, will not get battle tasted. The heavily scripted nature of her rollout so far lacks any sense of exactly why Clinton wants to be president other than that it's her time. The economy could easily falter again before the fall of next year, making it much harder to sell voters on four more years of Democratic control. And she will be running against history. Voters do not tend to let one party hold the White House for more than eight years in a row.

And then there is the very real problem of national Clinton fatigue. People remember the 1990s economy and general lack of war quite fondly, and rightly so. But they also realize that some of the policies of those years helped lead to the subsequent financial crisis and the grinding trend toward economic inequality. Plus it was a long time ago. And the Clintons come with oversized baggage, scores of scandals and a tendency toward epic internal staff drama.

Hillary Clinton will likely not be able to run as either a successor to Barack Obama (given the soft economy and multiple foreign policy crises) or Bill Clinton. She will have to carve out a clear set of policies and a broad vision for the nation all her own. Right now it's not obvious what any of those will be and Clinton will not face the crucible of a heated primary to sharpen her message. At this point, a Hillary Clinton presidency can seem both inevitable and impossible.

FOUR MORE YEARS - Rahm wins runoff in Chicago: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a second term last Tuesday after a bruising, multimillion-dollar campaign in the first runoff in the city's history. Emanuel handily led challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, 56 percent to 44 percent, with 73 percent of the vote tallied, when The Associated Press called the race. The result ends a historic campaign in which Emanuel, President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff, raised - by some estimates - close to $30 million (with the help of a supportive super PAC), with much of the investment made in television ads designed to prop up the mayor, who had abysmal approval ratings just last summer.

OBAMA'S STATE DINNERS: -- 2009: Then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ... 2010: Then-Mexican President Felipe Calderon ... 2011: Then-Chinese President Hu Jintao ... 2011: German Chancellor Angela Merkel ... 2011: Then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak ... 2012: British Prime Minister David Cameron ... 2014: French President Francois Hollande ... 2015: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, scheduled for April 28. ... 2015: (expected) Chinese President Xi Jinping.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Francis Ford Coppola (76), Ellen Goodman (74), Lily James (26), John Madden (79).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH - Megyn Kelly is not taking President Barack Obama's recent comments about Christians lightly. During an Easter prayer breakfast last Tuesday, President Obama told an audience that he gets concerned when he hears "less-than-loving expressions by Christians." "But that’s a topic for another day," he continued.

Like clockwork, Fox News responded with a bit of a freakout about the damaging effect of his words. "His remarks come as Christians are increasingly being targeted by terrorists worldwide," Kelly said last Tuesday evening, referring to the nearly 150 people killed in a terror attack on a Kenya university last week, and also citing the 21 Egyptians killed at the hands of the Islamic State militant group in February.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, backed her up, suggesting that Obama's policies are “fostering an environment where tyrants and terrorists feel free to kill people.” Even that was a bit much for Kelly, who took it back a notch and told Perkins that he had gone too far. But she did wonder whether Obama's comments were causing serious harm to the Christian community.

"This is the Easter prayer breakfast, OK? Like the holiest holiday in Christianity: Easter," she said, blasting Obama for making that the place where he "goes off script to criticize Christians."

“The question is whether those comments do real damage, not just to morale among Christians about what their president thinks of them, but to the enemy ... that they feel he won’t stand up for Christians who are under threat."

For these comments we honor Megyn Kelly with this month’s Jack Ass of the Month.

THE PUZZLER: “Secret Files” – Sort the following words into three different categories and name the categories. (Answers next week)

dinar, tap,  yen, spoon, potato ricer, ballet, flamenco, garlic press, nutcracker, swing, rupee, sheqel


American League:
East – Baltimore Orioles                   Central – Detroit Tigers
West – Seattle Mariners                   Wild Cards – Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics

National League:
East – Washington Nationals           Central – St. Louis Cardinals
West – Los Angeles Dodgers            Wild Cards – Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants

ALCS – Baltimore over Detroit        NLCS – Washington over Pittsburgh

2015 World Champs – Washington Nationals


(SCIAC Baseball Game of the Week, April 17) University of La Verne Leopards (18-13) 5 vs. Chapman University Brymans (21-11) 4

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Series Picks –

West – Ducks over Jets in 6 games, Flames over Canucks in 7 games, Blues over the Wild in 5 games, Blackhawks over the Predators in 7 games.

East – Rangers over Penguins in 5 games, Capitals over the Islanders in 7 games, Senators over the Canadiens in 6 games, Lightening over Detroit in 5 games.

Season to date (34-17)

MARKET WEEK – Earnings season begins in earnest this week, with profits in a real decline for the first time in six years. Dow stocks JPMorgan (JPM), American Express (AXP), Intel (INTC), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are the docket.

The Apple Watch generated nearly 1 million pre-orders in the U.S. Friday, according to early estimates. But some buyers won't get their devices until weeks after the April 24 launch date.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Big week for 2016ers with Hillary's announcement on Sunday and early state road trip and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's expected announcement today ... Congress is back in DC ... SEC Chair Mary Jo White testifies before House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Secretary of State Kerry, and Energy Secretary Moniz today will "brief House members of Congress regarding the P5+1's political framework for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and ongoing negotiations with Iran" ... House OGR has an Ex-Im hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. ... Jeb Bush on Tuesday keynotes the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting where he will argue for "pro-growth policies that allow for a robust economy and prosperity for individuals and businesses" ... Hillary Clinton starts her early-state rollout Tuesday in Iowa ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 1 percent ... Producer prices at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.2 percent headline, 0.1 percent core ... Consumer Prices at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.3 percent headline, 0.2 percent core ... Univ. of Mich. Consumer Sentiment at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 94 from 93.

Next week: Words of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios

Claremont, CA
April 13, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Castaway Island, Mort Gerberg